From the Tennessean:
A message from Bishop Joseph Walker, presiding bishop-elect of the 2 million-member Full Gospel Baptist Fellowship International and senior pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Nashville:
“A Grand Jury in St. Louis County, Missouri has made its decision. Ferguson Police Office Darren Wilson will not be indicted for the killing of Michael Brown. I know this will pain and anger many in America, particularly African Americans. But I implore you to think and pray before you react.
“Today, we must reach out, not strike back. Turn your anger into productive energy. Speak up and speak out, but don¹t scream. The physical and verbal violence has got to stop. We have the power to end it by starting substantive conversations in our communities.
“Today, think about Jesus¹s message of peace and understanding. Then put His message into a modern context. Move from the street to the sanctuary and bring the entire community with you. Wherever you are in America right now, go to your churches and invite others whom you perceive to be the ³other² to join you. Invite law enforcement in. Invite a broad spectrum of community leaders in. Invite members of other faiths in. Invite students in. All colors. All beliefs. All opinions. Invite them in.
“Be the instigators of discussion and collaboration. Take to social media, not to rant but to reach out. Start dialogue. Ask questions. Listen to responses. This is how we begin to operate from a position of mutual respect, which is the only way we will finally root out racism and misunderstanding in this country.
“We have begun this process in Nashville by forming Nashville Unites. It encourages ongoing dialogue between communities, law enforcement, educational institutions, and governmental and non-governmental organizations. It aims to establish and promote shared goals for a better city. Nashville Unites represents organized momentum towards understanding. Similar organizations can be launched in any community in this country. Do it today. Let today¹s decision out of Ferguson be the day we stop the useless posturing and finger-pointing on all sides. The time has come to reach out and invite each other in.
“I do not have all the answers for overcoming what divides us. But I know that this is the only way we will find them.”